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The new Division II program at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, coming off its first season of play, has been making its mark in picking up commitments from talented tristate players.

Sophomore longstick midfielder/faceoff specialist Josh Hernandez of Middletown in the Hudson Valley and senior midfielder Justin Stewart of Copiague on Long Island were just named to the preseason All-South Atlantic Conference squad for LMU.

Now, the Railsplitters just landed a verbal from another NY/NJ/CT standout: Rich Russo, a senior attackman/midfielder and three-year varsity player at Wantagh HS in Nassau County, a decision first reported by Joe Lombardi on’s Lacrosse Insider premium coverage section.

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Russo combines speed with physical strength. He is a shifty and elusive feeder/finsiher on offense who also excels in the faceoff X.

He is also an outstanding student with a 3.5 GPA.

Recruiting abstractNow, here’s a Q&A with Rich on his commitment.

What were the main factors in your decision?
Academics came first, of course. Then, as soon as I arrived on campus, I knew this was the school I would be attending for the next four years.

Lincoln Memorial has an excellent Business program and the campus was beautiful.

My family and I were greeted right away by Coach Kuhn, his staff and the players and they made me feel like part of the family right from the start.

What other schools were you considering and what schools did you visit?
Assumption, Adelphi, Molloy, St. Thomas Aquinas andLIU Post.

What are your strengths as a player and how would you describe your style of play?
I have always been a team player. I have switched positions many times for the better of the team. I have faced off, played midfield and played attack as well.

I give it my all every time i step on the field and I believe I am a very physical player who will do whatever it takes to be more successful.

What area of your game do you need to work on?
This offseason I have focused very hard on my off hand. The spring season is approaching and I must say I am a lot more comfortable using my off-hand now.

I am also working with a few coaches to incorporate more dodges into my arsenal.

At the college level, once I am in a defined role, I look forward to working hard at that position and being the best I can be at it.

How did you get introduced to lacrosse and what other sports have you played?
My best friend’s father put together a PAL team when we were 8 years old. They asked me to play and I’ve been playing ever since. I also played football since I was 5 years old and also played basketball up until middle school.

What travel team do you play on?
I play with True Blue lacrosse and The Wantagh Tribe.

What showcase events did you participate in?
I have participated in Crabfeast, L.I Lacrosse Showcase, Under Armour All- American showcase and The NYLA showcase.

Any final thoughts and people you want to thank for helping you reach this point?
I would like to first thank my mother and father for always being there for me and making me the hard worker I am today. They taught me that nothing is going to come easy, you have to go out there and work your butt off if you want to be successful.

I would also like to thank my first PAL coach, Coach Keith Casey, for introducing me to the game of lacrosse.

I would like to thank my travel coach, Coach Catatanotti for constantly pushing me to be the best player I can possibly be and taking me to the next level.

I would like thank my high school coaches, Coach Cuiffo, Coach Moriarty and Coach Polo for giving me the opportunity to play 3 years of varsity lacrosse and for always pushing me to work hard.

They not only pushed me on the field, but off the field as well.

They make sure I’m working hard in the classroom and being a good, respectful person on and off the field. They treat each of their players as if they are their own kids.

And lastly I would like to thank all my teammates along the way.


Have a recruiting commitment to report? Send an email to, contact Joe Lombardi directly at or send a Tweet to @Joe_Lombardi or @LaxLessons.

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